NOTICE: This article is a reproduction from Submitters Perspective No 32, September 1987.
Polygamy was a way of life until the Qur’an was revealed. When the earth was young and under-populated, polygamy was one way of populating it and bringing in the human beings needed to carry out God’s plan. By the time the Qur’an was revealed, the world had been sufficiently populated, or at least the right numbers of people had been brought into this world. This is why the Qur’an put down the first limitations or discouragements against polygamy.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that polygamy is Haraam or against God’s law; it is God’s law and it is permissible, but under strictly observed circumstances. Any abuse of this law results in such severe retribution, it is not worth it. I wish to point out here that although polygamy is God’s law, we MUST watch out for the circumstances and make sure that we are truly complying with the strict limitations our Creator has put down.
Our perfect example in this subject is the Prophet Muhammad. He was married to one wife, Khadijah, until she died. He had all his children from her, except one. Khadijah received Muhammad’s full attention for as long as she was married to him; twenty five years. Thus, for all practical purposes, Muhammad had only one wife. From the age of 25 to the age of 50, that is man’s real life, he had only one wife.
This perfect example tells us that a man must give his attention, his full attention and loyalty in marriage, to his wife and children in order to raise a happy family.
After Khadijah died, Muhammad married widows of his martyred friends who had many children and no means of financial support. These are the facts of history. There were a couple of “political” marriages in the life of Muhammad after Khadijah’s death. His best friend Abu Bakr begged him to marry his daughter Aisha. Some writers and/or orientalists have decided that Muhammad married Aisha when she was 9 years old. Big lie. Even now in the Middle East, people assign husbands and wives to their infants at the time of birth. And many of those arranged marriages do take pace as planned at the moment of birth. But this does not mean that the babies get married at that tender age. They do get married after they reach maturity. So much for this blasphemy against the Prophet.
Omar also begged the Prophet to marry his daughter Hafsa, and the king of Egypt “gave” Muhammad a slave girl, Maria, whom the Prophet married and from her he had his son Ibrahim. The other marriages of Muhammad were to old widows with children who needed help. The Qur’an’s most prominent reference to polygamy emphasizes that polygamy is a means of providing a home and a father-figure for orphaned children (see 4:3). Other references to polygamy emphasize the limitations against polygamy. For example, verse 3 of Sura 4 states that if we must resort to polygamy, we have to be absolutely fair in treating the wives. Then in verse 129 of the same Sura we are told that it is impossible to be fair in polygamy.
These restrictions point out the possibility of abusing God’s law. Unless we are absolutely positive that God’s law is not being abused, we better stay away from polygamy. If the circumstances do not clearly dictate polygamy, we better give our full attention to one wife and one-set of children; it is our duty to raise one happy and healthy family. The children’s psychological and social well-being, especially in a country where polygamy is illegal, dictate monogamy on us.
A few basic criteria for polygamy may help the sincere believers:
1. If it must be done, polygamy must alleviate pain and suffering, and not create any pain or suffering for any sincere submitter to God and His laws. Thus, you must ask yourself: If I practice polygamy, will this hurt my present wife and/or children? Will I generate pain and suffering for them? If the answer is “Yes,” you had better re-consider polygamy, and concentrate your efforts and attention on your present wife and children.
2. If you and your present family are still young, chances are you will be abusing God’s law if you practice polygamy. Some men come to me and say: “My wife is frigid, and cannot satisfy my drive.” First of all, there is no such thing as a “frigid wife.” Instead of blaming the wife’s frigidity, I ask the husband to exert more loving attention to his wife. Invariably, the wife becomes un-frigid and the marriage is restored by God to a great joy.
3. You cannot substitute a younger, “more exciting” model for your wife. This will tell you: you are a slave of your lusts. The mark of a true believer is self-discipline and self-control. If you practice polygamy because of lust, the retribution will be severe and just not worth it. Worse yet, you will anger God and bring a lot of misery upon yourself and your new “wife.”
Abusing God’s law is a gross offense, and you cannot trick or deceive God. You better examine the circumstances, and examine yourself very carefully before practicing polygamy.
(Message from Ahmad Wehbe)
Peace be upon you,
The details concerning polygamy is very specific, Rashad Khalifa makes them very clear for us. And he specifically says that it is not forbidden.
However, some people will tell you otherwise, that polygamy is indeed forbidden! These people are clearly innovating by forbidding what God never did.
Rashad Khalifa is clarifying the commandment concerning polygamy, however, he is not discussing the rights of the man. This is an important distinction, because many people are confusing polygamy with the rights of the man.
These details are not nullifying the rights of the man.
Nor is he forbidding whatever special arrangement a husband and his wives agree upon.
Nor is this discussing the differences between individual women and their character. For example, some women want a lot of attention, while other women almost want no attention except for wanting to have children.
Throughout our journey in life we will meet women whom we feel will fit perfectly into our private life, if all parties involved agree to it, then it is okay to even have a thousand wives. As long as everyone’s rights are not violated and the agreements are upheld.
The verse that mentions a man can never be fair in dealing with more than one wife is simply stating a fact, it applies to our friends, students, employees, children and parents as well. It is preparing us to the reality of what a polygamous life means, so don’t waste energy on trying to treat the wives equally, it’s never going to happen, there will be bickering and a whole lot of nonsense and emotions, don’t fall for it. Even in the example of prophet Muhammad, God tells us he can draw closer to whomever he chooses and push away whomever he chooses from his wives. So even in our best example concerning polygamy we see there is no mention of trying to treat all wives equally.
However, we must talk about the main problem of polygamy. It can never be practiced unless there is a surplus of women. We should only practice polygamy if every man is already taken and righteous women are left hanging with no man to marry. It is extremely detrimental to a community if all the women are married to just a couple of men while hundreds of men remain single all their life. This would lead to the destruction of the community in many ways.
All in all, the man has rights, and if a man is not happy with his current wife and he has tried everything to fix the situation then he is encouraged to divorce her and marry someone else. This is not forbidden.
If you are done with your wife and you feel life is miserable with her, divorce her. Marry a woman who makes you happy instead. The worst situation a righteous man can be in is to be married with a woman that drains his energy and wastes his time, this distracts him from his righteous duties and strife. Learn from your mistakes and make sure you know the woman before you marry again.
These are the rights of a man. A righteous man will not abuse these rights.
Thank you and GOD bless.